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Preview: The Toronto Maple Leafs are ahead by a century as they take on the Carolina Hurricanes

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One hundred years ago today, the NHL was born.

Team photo of the Arena Hockey Club of Toronto, a.k.a Toronto Arenas, O'Brien Cup and Stanley Cup Champions for the 1917–18 season. Top row, left to right: Russell "Rusty" Crawford, Harry Meeking, Ken Randall, Corbett Denneny and& Public domain - Wikimedia Commons

Toronto Arenas vs Carolina Hurricanes: Game # 35

Time: 2 p.m.

Location: The ACC which took over for Maple Leaf Gardens in 1999 which took over for the Arena Gardens (home of the Toronto Arenas) in 1931

Broadcast/Streaming: Sportsnet Ontario, Fox Sports - Carolina

Opponent SBNation Site: Canes Country

Hop in your time machine and go back a century to the first season of the NHL and invite someone to come see this game tonight. Let’s pick Ken Randall. He just turned 29, he’s the captain of the team, and he wears number 16. He’s 5’ 10” tall and 180 lbs, and Ken will think that kid playing in his jersey is about normal for a hockey player.

He’ll be shocked by so many other things about the game, though. The men from all corners of the earth, the opposition team from the sunny and hot part of America, the forward passes, how young everyone is, the goalies, oh my, the goalies. What would Ken make of our Danish giant who might be one of the best athletes on the team? And then we’ll introduce him to the man from the desert who is the best thing to ever hit this town in a century of arrivals.

So much has changed about this game, most of it for the better, like teams from hot places and players from all sorts of backgrounds. But sometimes time is a circle, and it’s good that a man sized like Ken is wearing number 16 again.

Toronto Maple Leafs

From practice the last two days.

Forward Lines

Patrick Marleau - William Nylander - Zach Hyman

Leo Komarov - Nazem Kadri - Connor Brown

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Mitch Marner

Matt Martin - Dominic Moore - Kasperi Kapanen

Defence Pairings

Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey

Jake Gardiner - Connor Carrick

Andreas Borgman - Roman Polak

Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

Carolina Hurricanes

From leftwinglock.com

Forward Lines

Brock Mcginn - Jordan Staal - Justin Williams

Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Teuvo Teravainen

Sebastian Aho - Derek Ryan - Elias Lindholm

Joakim Nordstrom - Marcus Kruger - Josh Jooris

Defence Pairings

Jaccob Slavin - Brett Pesce

Klas Dahlbeck - Justin Faulk

Noah Hanifin - Trevor Van Riemsdyk

Goaltenders

Scott Darling

Cam Ward


The Leafs have injuries: Nikita Soshnikov and Nikita Zaitsev are on IR, and Auston Matthews is skating on his own right now, practicing, but not joining in with all of the other reindeer. He has an injury of some kind, and no one is saying when he’s coming back, but it’s telling that he’s not been placed on IR. He can return at any time or be kept out of action until after the Christmas break.

To fill in, we now have Kasperi Kapanen and Martin Marincin on the roster. Marincin is not expected to play today, but Kapanen likely will.

The line of Marleau - Nylander - Hyman is both deeply interesting and also flexible enough to allow for a switch of centres if Nylander gets in over his head. That’s good for Nylander and good for the team. The idea that Mike Babcock wants to bench Nylander and barely play him is laughable on its face and should be relegated to hockey conspiracy twitter accounts.

We also get a dose of Komarov - Kadri - Brown, a line that worked very well at times last year. Let’s hope they can handle that one beefy line on the Canes. The rest of the Canes forward lines, their Nordic conspiracy of zippy forwards who like to have the puck in the offensive zone all of the time, they’ll have to get dealt with by the other Leafs lines.

I do recall that the last time the Leafs met this team that has become their true nemesis, Mitch Marner was winning board battles against those guys. They might be Corsi Gods, but Mitch can take them in a fight. As always, the strength of the Hurricanes lies in their young defenders, and their weakness lies in their poor shot quality and goaltending.

Win this one Leafs, win it for history, or Ken Randall, all the people who snuck out of work to watch it, or just because you’re tired of losing. Whatever reason, just win it.